Hurricane Nicole pummels Bermuda with winds up to 115 mph

Hurricane Nicole pummels Bermuda with winds up to 115 mph

Nicole, which had winds down from 130 miles per hour earlier Thursday, was still a unsafe Category 3 hurricane Thursday morning.

"A unsafe storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 metres) to above normal tide levels in Bermuda", warned the Miami-based hurricane centre in its latest advisory. A surface station on Pearl Island in Bermuda measured sustained winds of 87 miles per hour with a gust to 119 miles per hour, the hurricane center said.

By early Thursday afternoon, the storm was about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northeast of Bermuda.

"Although a gradual weakening is forecast, Nicole is expected to be at major hurricane strength when it moves near Bermuda later today", the NHC said.

The hurricane will also spread surf swells north along the east coast of the United States over the next few days, and could also spawn tornadoes, it said.

"A unsafe storm surge will raise water levels by as much as 6 to 8 feet above normal tide levels in Bermuda". "Now we just have to hope and pray for the best".

At 11 a.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said that the eye of the storm was passing over Bermuda.

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Schools and government offices remained closed on Friday, while the island's worldwide airport is expected to open around noon.

There has so far been no official word of the damage Nicole caused, but local newspaper The Royal Gazette said it had received reports of flooding and road damage.

"I believe we are generally ready for it", Premier Michael Dunkley said.

The latest minimum central pressure reported by an Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is 952 mb (28.12 inches). "I have every faith that the people of Bermuda will rally together after the storm".

Those at home made last-minute preparations for what lay ahead, with resident Danni Joell saying she was "cooking up a storm" with her son, Tyler, in the kitchen.

Forecasters are hopeful that Nicole will abate a little before she passes over the island 650nm from the USA coastline in the Atlantic Ocean, however that prediction was modified to be timed after she had passed Bermuda.

Buildings were boarded up as heavy wind and rain hit the islands, and airlines have canceled flights to the islands.